As I’ve discussed with a few of you, genetic testing has become a recent interest of mine. It’s very in line with nutrition/nutrient therapy and creates a personalized road map of what’s going on inside your body and how to improve your functioning.
Notably, undermethylation as the result of an MTHFR genetic mutation may be a significant issue with many of the “Type A” entrepreneurs and other professionals that I work with. Undermethylators are often high achievers plagued by perfectionistic tendencies, addictive/compulsive behavior and obsessive thinking.
What is methylation anyways? According to Mark Hyman, MD:
“Methylation is a key biochemical process that is essential for the proper function of almost all of your body’s systems. It occurs billions of times every second; it helps repair your DNA on a daily basis; it controls homocysteine (an unhealthy compound that can damage blood vessels); it helps recycle molecules needed for detoxification; and it helps maintain mood and keep inflammation in check.”
Often undermethylation results in lower levels of key neurotransmitters like serotonin, that keep us calm and happy. The result can be emotional reactivity or damaging addictive/compulsive behaviors aimed at regulating our mood.
The 23andme test is important because an MTHFR mutation can be complicated by other genetic mutations and so the treatment for it will vary based on your personalized genetic profile. We need the other mutation information to effectively treat the root cause of these health concerns.
I am sharing this information now because 23andme is the only way I know of to get a fairly complete genetic profile–which is important because some mutations interact with one another and affect how you should approach treatment. At this point, it is uncertain if 23andme will be able to offer their test in the foreseeable future while they comply with FDA requests for further information. As Dr. Ben Lynch explains here, you definitely have 5 more days to order the test–but after that we’re not so sure.
Heather Shannon is a counselor and health coach working in private practice in Chicago. She works primarily with "Type A" clients and takes a holistic approach to counseling, incorporating nutrition and lifestyle education into her work with teens and adults.